Shot@Life, an organization dedicated to ensuring children around the world have access to lifesaving vaccines, will have its eighth annual Champion Summit Feb. 25-27. Four JMU students and their adviser will be in attendance in Washington, D.C., with over 100 grassroots advocates to meet with members of Congress and share their knowledge on global childhood immunization programs and the importance of vaccinations.
Senior nursing major Nellie Young is one of the students selected to attend the event. This will be her first time at the Champion Summit, and even though she says it’s going to be a “little scary” and “intimidating” to talk with members of Congress about these issues, the opportunity to influence legislators about the importance of vaccines is not one she was ready to pass up.
“One of my main goals is just to make sure that all of our legislators in Congress are all educated with the facts about vaccines,” Young said. “I think sometimes there is a lot of gray area around this, so I want to get the most accurate information and make sure that can get to our legislators so that they can make informed decisions.”
Maureen MacLeod, a senior nursing major and president of Nursing Students Without Borders, will be attending Shot@Life for the second time. Last year, she met someone who had polio, showing her how much of an impact these summits can have.
“I was able to meet nurse practitioners, pharmacist students, political advocates, everyone from different areas of the healthcare field that really had their different opinions on how this affects them,” MacLeod said. “So I’m hoping I can bring what I learned last year into this year and share it with my peers who are attending. Right now, it’s really important with the measles outbreak in New York and all over.”
MacLeod was amazed to realize that people from 35 different states came to last year’s Champion Summit. For her, it showed people are getting the message about the necessity of vaccines.
It was necessary for the NSWB students to complete a training session before becoming eligible to attend the summit. Eight students were selected to attend the event, but only four could make space in their schedules. Tammy Kiser, an assistant professor of nursing and the adviser for JMU NSWB, will be attending the event alongside the students.
“This year, I’m interested to see what else will be required to actually completely eradicate polio,” Kiser said. “I’m also interested to see what their plan is for addressing the measles outbreak that we are having in the United States and around the world.”
Only about 125 people from around the U.S. are accepted to attend the event, according to Kiser. She says she’s proud of the student advocates because they all share a vision of what global immunization programs can offer to those who need it the most.
“The common goal is that we want to get children immunized and give them a shot at life,” Kiser said. “I think that is the best part of it.”
Contact Mitchell Sasser at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.